Saturday, 10 May 2014

And then there is Randie

Some of you will remember my care for Randie, a Swedish born woman whom I encounter from time to time on my peregrinations with Penne.   She is a delightful person who enjoys the natural world and "takes time to smell the roses",

Some of you will also know that I had not seen her in over a year, and that I worried about her.  The fact is that I knew only her first name, and that she lived in nearby condominium complex (which has more that three hundred units in five building)s.

Of course I could have rung up to three hundred door bells in order to track her down, but most likely I would have been expelled on suspicion of being a Mormon or a Jehovah's Witness. (We have strict "no soliciting" rules in many condominium developments in FL).

To my great relief I met up again with Randie earlier this year. She gave me her business card -  thus I got to know her last name, and her 'phone number,

So it was that I 'phoned Randie last week and arranged to meet her at her home for coffee and cookies.  This I did last Tuesday.

I learned so much.  Randie migrated from Sweden to the U.S.A. in 1948.  She wound up in Minneapolis (Nordic heaven) where she met her husband Bo -  another recent immigrant from Sweden.  He served in the U.S. Army, and then they got married, and had two children.

In the late 1960's Randie and Bo moved to Sarasota were they bought and operated a Motel near to the airport. 

Business was good for many years.  Those were the days in which holiday makers would spend a week or two in a Motel. Randie and Bo catered especially to Nordic tourists, and kept up with Scandinavian customs, e,g, coffee and cake for all at about 11:00 a.m.,. each day.

Then the market changed. First because holiday makers began to spend only a day or two in any given Motel before driving on to "the next place". Second because tourists increasingly favoured "brand name" chain motels rather than independents.

Bo and Randie "got out when the going was good"  and sold their motel in 1999. They bought a nice house with a few acres  (Randie says that there were 110 Palms on their lot).

RETIREMENT brought sadness:

First Bo succumbed to pancreatic cancer. After his death Randie sold their house and moved to her present home. Second their only son chose to distance himself from his family.  Randie has not seen him in fourteen years. She has no idea where he lives.

RETIREMENT also brought gladness.  Randie and Bo also had a daughter.  She lives with her husband in Arizona.  One of their children (Randie's grandson) will be marrying his belle in New York City later this month.   OF COURSE RANDIE WILL BE THERE!

She will be there with her "gentleman friend" a man who also lived in SRQ.  She met him at some party or other and they have become good friends.  (She was anxious to tell me that there is no romance, and I believe her).

If all goes well they will travel to Italy and to Sweden after the wedding.

This warms the cockles of my heart. Randie must be at least sixteen years older than I.  But she has not ceased to live!

Isn't it cool? My daily walks with Penne lead to lovely encounters and to new friendships.

Friday, 9 May 2014

My funny octogenarian friend Betty M

Some of you will remember my previous "Povey Prattle" postings about Betty M -  a wonderful octogenarian ex-marine who lives in  the nearby community which is called Glen Oaks Manor.

Betty and I first encountered each other with a smile and a nod as I walked my dog Penne.  Then we moved on to saying "good morning" or "good afternoon".

In due course we stopped in our walks and had friendly chats. 

Those chats led us into a gentle and gracious friendship.  We are very fond of each other.

Did I tell you that Betty is a widow?,  Or that she is of Irish heritage?  Or that she has a daughter, and three sons, one of whom lived with her in recent years. He was a splendid fellow who died from terrible cancer? (His name was Stephen.  He and I had lovely chats as we walked, long before his fatal illness).

Did I tell you that Betty is a great admirer of Penne (my dog)?

With all that said and done, and since I have not seen Betty in a couple of weeks I decided to call her today in order to make contact before my trip to the U.K.

She was glad to hear from me and  explained that she has not walked out in recent weeks because of the increasing heat.

Then she added that she had "been working like a dog today".

With a twinkle in my voice I countered "Betty, that's not fair to Penne".

Without missing a beat she responded.

"O.K." she said "in that case I have been working like a crazy Englishman".

How could I not laugh out loud at her witty repast?
She and I will get togther on this coming Tuesday: one more chance to love and laugh before I take my holiday.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Let no good deed go unpunished

From a friend who lives in  Somerville MA
The absurdity of trying, and failing, to help a stranger:

On my way home this evening, I saw an elderly man with an arm in a sling and a cane, trying to push a shopping cart. When I offered to help, he said "Thank you, Thank you!" Little did I know, that was the only English he spoke.

So, I pushed his shopping cart and we shuffled along, about a block every 15 minutes. Where are you going?... "Thank you, Thank you." What is your address? "Thank you, Thank you." Looking him over, I guessed that he might speak Haitian Creole, so I called a friend to translate - and got her voice-mail. Frustrated, I hailed a Haitian-looking bus driver and asked if he spoke Creole. Yes! And he recognized this man! Rather than ask directly, he told me he knew which street the man lived on, which was 5 blocks on the other side of the Davis Square. So, I asked him to tell the man that I would get my car to drive him there and dashed home to get it. Five minutes later, I double-parked in the middle of traffic, while I assisted the man into my car (shuffle, shuffle) and put his shopping cart and groceries in my trunk. He looked wild-eyed at the car and me "Thank you, Thank you!" and I drove him through the square toward the street the bus driver had told me.

Halfway there, the old man looked around wild-eyed and shouted "Thank you, Thank you!" Uh, oh. Should I stop here? "Thank you, thank you!" So, I pulled into a parking space, unloaded the cart, groceries and old man (shuffle, shuffle). I pointed in one direction, Cameron Ave, and the man looked at me wild-eyed. I pointed in the other direction, Davis Square, "Thank you, Thank you!" Okay. So, I put 2 quarters in the meter (30 minutes) and pushed the cart towards Davis Square, from whence we had come, as the old man shuffled behind me. All the commuters on their way home, walked around the crazy lady with the shopping cart and the old man with a cane (shuffle, shuffle). Two blocks and thirty minutes later, we reached the Square. I pointed in one direction, College Ave, and the man looked at me wild-eyed. I pointed in the other direction, Davis Square, "Thank you, Thank you!" Another ten minutes and we are in the center of the square and he points down College Ave. Okay.

As we approached a cross-walk, I suggest that we cross here and he kept walking. A block later, he starts out into the middle of rush hour traffic. Okay. All traffic stops (shuffle, shuffle) as the crazy lady with the shopping cart and the old man take 10 minutes to cross the street. No-one honks their horn (Thank you!) and we enter the senior housing block right in Davis Square. THREE blocks from where I met him on one side of the square and THREE blocks from where I parked my car. I turned to him and smiled - "You are home! You live on College Ave!" He turned to me and said "Thank you, Thank you!" Then I turned and ran as fast as I could to my car, where my meter had expired, but I had no parking ticket.

Thank you, Thank you!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

I have no choice, but dammit I don't want to be dependent.

"But I don't want to be dependent".

This is a phrase which I heard over and over again from older parishioners who were dealing with increasing physical limitations, but did not want to "be a burden" to their children, grandchildren, or dear friends.

Of course I would remind them that "once upon a time"  their children (when young) had been very dependent on them, but although my reminders were historically true they were emotionally unhelpful.

The truth is that we all have been utterly dependent on other people since our births.  We have always been dependent upon our parent/s, our siblings, our communities which provided schooling, public transportation, roads, street lights, gas, electricity, water etc. etc. etc.  We took those dependencies for granted.

We cannot live without being dependent.

But being dependent in older years can be tough.  It can make us feel less than worthwhile because we are not doing our bit.  We also fear that increased dependency will lead to increasing isolation .

A case in point.
My pal Ben has decided that he should no longer drive.  ( He has very weak eyesight due to macular degeneration, and he is all but totally deaf).
Well, maybe he did not "decide" (implying freedom of choice), maybe he finally submitted to the wisdom of the loving "nagging" by his friends and by his step-son.
Which ever is the truth we are all relieved and delighted that Ben will surrender his Driver's Licence and sell his car.  (We know that as a driver he has become a danger to himself and to others).
And we his local pals  (his step-son lives in Massachusetts) have assured Ben that we will be glad to drive him to his medical appointments, to the supermarkets, to the wine store, and  to restaurants for dinner etc, etc.  There are six of us and we will share in the joy of being present for Ben. (I drove him to and from hos Doctor's appointment today)
Good as this is, and gladly as we will do it, it is not perfect for Ben.
1. Unless we (his six friends)  are utterly proactive,  Ben will be "reduced" to the place of being a supplicant - i.e. having to ask us for favours.
2. Ben will be robbed of some of the privileges of spontaneity.  No longer will he be able to jump into his car "on a whim" to visit a friend.  No longer will he be able to drive to the local  supermarket, pharmacy, post office etc. on the spur of the moment.
I write this because..
a) Maybe I was too glib when I talked to older parishioners about their increasing dependency.
b)  I need to remind myself to initiate deeds of love and care, much more frequently than I merely  respond to the needs of others.
c)  These days will come to me. I hope that I will remember my own words.
d)  I care for Ben and for my older friends.
DO  NOT FORGET  that whatever are the ways we can be a means of blessing to Ben, it is "simple enough" because we live in a urban centre with hundreds of doctors; scores of supermarkets;  banks and post offices a-plenty.
REMEMBER THOSE who live in isolated rural areas where the services and stores which are important and vital to dependent elders are most often many miles away.


Sunday, 4 May 2014

I dreamed that I was Parrot

In a dream three nights ago I was driving west on the Mohawk trail (Route 2) in Massachusetts.

I began to drive down the steep hill from the famous hair-pin bend on Route 2 towards North Adams.

 I noticed a downed tree covering half of the roadway and decided that I should notify the authorities in North Adams so that cyclists would be warned of danger.

But as you might imagine from your own dreams there was no North Adams.

Instead my dream took me instantly into Williamstown, MA and to the Parish Hall at St. John’s Episcopal Church. I was so relieved since (in truth) the Rector of St. John’s is my good friend Peter Elvin and I knew that he would notify some authority or other.

Of course in dreamland it was not the actual parish hall. Rather it was an oblong inner room with wonderful interior brick work.

My Trinity Church Melrose MA colleague Bruce Lomas was in the room. (In real life he is a cyclist).

He and another Priest were summoned into a side room for an urgent and private consultation with the Bishop.

Bruce and his companion emerged and stated that the Bishop (Alexander Stewart?) wanted Diane Root to do some typing.  (Diane was a good colleague in Western Massachusetts, we are good friends).

‘Twas then that I realized that I was at St. John’s to preach a farewell sermon for their Rector Peter Elvin (a real person) on his retirement. I worried a bit in case that Peter’s wife Diana was not also retiring.

I perceived that I should dress up as a Parrot for my sermon.  I did do, wearing a black cassock, with a multi-coloured beach towel around my head.

 I began to preach on one of the Epistles, from a Parrot’s point of view.

 It was then that my friend Denis Ford (from older days in Western Massachusetts) entered the room.. He sat in a back row in what was by now a Chapel in the round.  He was wearing a tan coloured rain coat, and he would not stop talking.

It was at this point that, still in my Parrot costume,  I arose from my seat to insist on my prerogatives as the  Preacher.

I kept saying “Polly wants to preach, Polly wants to preach, Polly wants to preach”.

At this point I awoke. 

Wide awake,  I could not stop laughing at the silliness of the dream